Saturday, February 17, 2018

William Amor: Illinois; Bulletin: Arson 'science' 'false confession' case: "A DuPage County judge will rule Wednesday whether to send a former Naperville man back to prison to finish serving the final year of a 23-year sentence or to set him free for the first time since 1995..."Amor was convicted in 1997 of arson and murder in connection with the 1995 death of his mother-in-law, Marianne Miceli, in a fire at a Naperville condo on the 1800 block of Baily Road. But Brennan vacated that conviction last April after ruling that advances in fire science proved the description of the crime Amor gave in his confession to police -- that he started the fire with a cigarette and a vodka-soaked newspaper -- was impossible. Amor has been free on $100,000 bail since last May awaiting his second trial." Reporter Justin Kmitch. Daily Herald.


QUOTE OF THE DAY:  "There's no way to rule out an accidental fire in this case. That's at least reasonable doubt. Science gives us reasonable doubt."

 Defense attorney Tara Thompson

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"A DuPage County judge will rule Wednesday whether to send a former Naperville man back to prison to finish serving the final year of a 23-year sentence or to set him free for the first time since 1995. Judge Liam Brennan will decide William Amor's future at 10 a.m. in Wheaton. Amor's nearly two-week bench trial concluded Feb. 2, but Brennan said he needed time to review his notes and evidence before handing down a verdict. Prosecutors James Scaliatine and Thomas Minser, in their closing arguments this month, insisted that just because experts debunked the way Amor confessed to starting the fire doesn't mean he didn't intentionally ignite the blaze some other way. And they said Amor, 39 at the time, unemployed and down on his luck, was counting on killing Marianne Miceli to collect her life insurance policy to jump-start a better life for himself and his 18-year-old bride, Tina Miceli. They pointed to a 1995 letter Amor had written Tina in which he allegedly wrote that he had a plan for "capital gains later that summer." "He was miserable. His situation was untenable and he wanted out," Minser said after playing a snippet of Amor's audio-taped confession to Naperville police. "And his way out was to murder Marianne Miceli." As for the confession, "Believe him when he told you he's a murderer," Minser told Brennan. That confession, Amor's attorneys say, was coerced from a highly suggestible man who had just lost his home, all his belongings, his mother-in-law and, ultimately, his marriage when he was served divorce papers during his interrogation. His attorneys, from the Illinois Innocence Project, say science shows the fire would have reached a fatal level much sooner than the estimated 20 minutes it took if Amor had ignited it. Testimony showed Amor and Miceli left to see a drive-in movie showing of "Babe," a movie about "a pig who doesn't conform to his farm's social hierarchy," about 20 minutes before Marianne Miceli's 6:40 p.m. 911 call to report she was "overcome with smoke." Instead, his attorneys and their experts pointed to a theory that a small fire, possibly from a careless smoker, could have smoldered for as long as five hours before finally erupting into the fatal blaze. According to trial testimony, Marianne Miceli smoked about two packs of cigarettes a day. Amor and Tina also smoked in the home. "There's no way to rule out an accidental fire in this case," defense attorney Tara Thompson said in her closing argument. "That's at least reasonable doubt. Science gives us reasonable doubt."

http://www.dailyherald.com/news/20180216/dupage-judge-to-rule-in-naperville-mans-second-murder-trial

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Miguel Roman: Connecticut; From our 'when you think you've seen everything department'. Miguel Roman was exonerated by new DNA testing that resulted in another man being convicted of the murder - after serving 20 years of a 60 year term. But as Associated Press reporter Dave Collins reported (National Post), Roman has run into a roadblock in his wrongful imprisonment lawsuit: The city (Hartford) claims it has lost a 30-year-old insurance policy, "that could play a key role in any damages or settlement the city would have to pay."..."The “excess” policy that is missing could be key in the lawsuit because it would cover any damages or settlement the city would have to pay above $2 million, which is the liability limit of the city’s primary insurance policy issued by Travelers that was in place 30 years ago. Hartford struggled with its finances over the past year and was near bankruptcy before getting help in the new state budget passed in October."


PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "The inability to locate the policy prompted federal Magistrate Judge Joan Margolis in New Haven on Monday to order the city to subpoena insurance companies in an effort to find it."

STORY: "City loses 30-year-old insurance policy to settle a two-decade wrongful imprisonment," by Associated Press reporter Dave Collins, published by The National Post on February 3, 2018.

SUB-HEADING: "Roman served 20 years of a 60-year sentence for the death of his pregnant then-girlfriend before being released in December 2008 and later exonerated based on new DNA testing that convicted another."

GIST: "Hartford officials say they cannot find a 30-year-old insurance policy that could play a key role in any damages or settlement the city would have to pay in a lawsuit filed by a man wrongly imprisoned for murder for two decades. The inability to locate the policy prompted federal Magistrate Judge Joan Margolis in New Haven on Monday to order the city to subpoena insurance companies in an effort to find it. Miguel Roman, of Manchester, filed the federal lawsuit against the city and police officials in March 2011, alleging malicious prosecution, suppression of evidence and violation of his civil rights. City officials deny the allegations. His lawyers have been seeking information on the city’s insurance policies since the lawsuit was filed nearly seven years ago. “Mr. Roman is satisfied that the court granted him the relief that he sought,” said his lawyer, Rosemarie Paine. “The court’s ruling provides a timeline for taking the necessary steps to locate the missing policy and move the case forward.” Nathalie Feola-Guerrieri, senior assistant corporation counsel for the city, declined to comment. She wrote in court documents that city officials have made many efforts to find the policy, including asking insurance companies to look for it, but to no avail. Roman, 61, was convicted of murder in the 1988 killing of his 17-year-old girlfriend, Carmen Lopez, of Hartford, who was pregnant. Roman, who was not the father of the unborn baby, served 20 years of a 60-year sentence before being released in December 2008 and later exonerated based on new DNA testing that resulted in another man being convicted of her killing. State officials later awarded Roman $6 million for his wrongful conviction. Travellers has recommended to the city that it notify the carrier of its excess policy about the lawsuit, because of the chance that any award to Roman could exceed $2 million. The excess policy presumably was in effect in 1988, when Roman said he was wrongfully arrested. An unanswered question in the case is whether the city’s insurance policies in effect in 2011, when he filed his lawsuit, would cover any award to him. Roman has not disclosed a specific dollar amount for the damages he is seeking."

The entire post can be found at:
http://nationalpost.com/news/world/oops-city-loses-insurance-policy-in-wrongful-imprisonment

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Friday, February 16, 2018

Daniel Holtzclaw: Oklahoma; Author Michelle Malkin alleges "DNA science flaws", "falsehoods", "fights to keep hidden from public view the results of secret hearings" and bungling by controversial Oklahoma police lab technician Elaine Taylor, in a punchy post about the convicted serial rapist called, 'Science, Secrecy and Lies in Oklahoma' published by Townhall..."At her lab in Carlsbad, California, Ryan showed me how Oklahoma City police crime lab analyst Elaine Taylor neglected to perform simple serological and forensic tests on Holtzclaw's uniform pants. She explained that Taylor did not use an alternate light source, "which is a very common practice" in sexual assault cases to detect saliva or vaginal fluid stains. Nor did Taylor conduct basic saliva tests (which she oddly told the jury she "refused" to do) or a presumptive vaginal fluid test, which Ryan demonstrated.Ryan also noted how Taylor "incorrectly stated that no male DNA was present in two" of four DNA samples taken, "when in fact there was." The reason the error was so grave is that prosecutor Gayland Gieger (who has zero training in forensic science) used Taylor's false characterization to argue and bolster his own unscientific conclusion that because Holtzclaw's DNA was not found in the minuscule mixtures of multiple contributors, the DNA could have only gotten there through sexual contact via the teen accuser's vaginal fluid. "Well, you can't say that," Ryan commented. "If you don't do a test for something, you can't make a statement like that. ... There was absolutely no body fluid identification," she told me. "It's not scientifically sound." - another


COMMENTARY: "Secrecy and Lies in Oklahoma," by Michelle Malkin, published by Townhall on February 14, 2018. (Michelle Malkin's new episode on the Holtzclaw case debuts this week at crtv.com/michelle-malkin-investigates.)


GIST: "As the Oklahoma attorney general's office fights to keep hidden from public view the results of secret hearings on the DNA science flaws and falsehoods in former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw's case, two prominent experts have stepped forward to shed bright light on the government's myriad mind-boggling failures. Forensic scientist, criminal profiler and crime reconstructionist Dr. Brent Turvey and independent forensic DNA consultant Suzanna Ryan spoke out about the Holtzclaw case for the newest episode of my investigative program on CRTV.com.
Reflecting on the confirmation bias that drove the investigation, the elementary failures of evidence collection and the forensic missteps, Turvey told me that he and his colleagues "cannot understand how this case got into trial at all." Holtzclaw is the wrongfully convicted Oklahoma City patrolman caught up in the nationwide anti-cop frenzy and social justice riots of Ferguson and Baltimore. After initial accuser Jannie Ligons -- who is suing Holtzclaw in a high-dollar lawsuit represented by Al Sharpton 2.0, Benjamin Crump -- went public with her sensational sexual assault claims in June 2014, Oklahoma City sex-crimes Detectives Rocky Gregory and Kim Davis solicited a field of 13 total accusers. They were all black women and almost all had histories of drug abuse, mental illness, prostitution and multiple crimes. No "linkage analysis" was done to establish a factual basis for the alleged victim profile, Turvey told me. The profile was created from gut feelings, not science or professional expertise. Seven additional accusers, including one male, told such preposterous stories that the cops were forced to reject them out of hand. Only one was prosecuted for lying to police. Of the 13 who went to trial, the jury rejected five of the accusers' stories and cleared Daniel of their charges (18 out of 36 total). Detectives Gregory and Davis preemptively told accusers they were searching for sexual assault victims of a "bad guy" on the police force and badgered women who repeatedly had denied they were victims of any sexual improprieties, refused to look at lineups or described an alleged attacker as "short" and "black" or "dark-skinned" (Daniel is 6-foot-1, pale and half Japanese). Turvey -- who has worked for government agencies and universities across the world and authored multiple peer-reviewed textbooks on criminal profiling and investigation, forensic criminology and victimology, forensic science, criminal justice ethics and law enforcement corruption -- called the Oklahoma City detectives' approach "one of the most biased ways of approaching criminal investigation that (he'd) ever seen." "You have detectives who have started with the notion that Mr. Holtzclaw is guilty," Turvey recounted, "searching through as many potential contacts as he's ever had" to confirm their narrative. Detectives weren't interested in pursuing other leads who matched accusers' descriptions. They were "just interested in making their case against Officer Holtzclaw. That's the definition of confirmation bias." It's a major red flag, Turvey (whose most recent textbook is on false allegations) told me, "because the possibility that you're dealing with somebody who's falsely reporting the crime goes way up when you approach the case in this fashion." Out of the eight remaining accusers' claims and alleged crime scenes, there were zero corroborating witnesses, and there was zero direct forensic evidence. The Oklahoma City Police Department's crime lab identified what it characterized as "epithelial cell" DNA from one lone accuser -- a troubled 17-year-old girl with a history of violent crime who called Daniel a "hot cop." Her trace DNA became the linchpin in the case. At her lab in Carlsbad, California, Ryan showed me how Oklahoma City police crime lab analyst Elaine Taylor neglected to perform simple serological and forensic tests on Holtzclaw's uniform pants. She explained that Taylor did not use an alternate light source, "which is a very common practice" in sexual assault cases to detect saliva or vaginal fluid stains. Nor did Taylor conduct basic saliva tests (which she oddly told the jury she "refused" to do) or a presumptive vaginal fluid test, which Ryan demonstrated.Ryan also noted how Taylor "incorrectly stated that no male DNA was present in two" of four DNA samples taken, "when in fact there was." The reason the error was so grave is that prosecutor Gayland Gieger (who has zero training in forensic science) used Taylor's false characterization to argue and bolster his own unscientific conclusion that because Holtzclaw's DNA was not found in the minuscule mixtures of multiple contributors, the DNA could have only gotten there through sexual contact via the teen accuser's vaginal fluid. "Well, you can't say that," Ryan commented. "If you don't do a test for something, you can't make a statement like that. ... There was absolutely no body fluid identification," she told me. "It's not scientifically sound." Moreover, in reaction to Gieger's mockery of transfer DNA at trial and Gregory and Davis's claims to me that it is "almost impossible" to transfer DNA indirectly, Ryan, who has worked as a DNA analyst for both public and private DNA labs and served as an expert witness in forensic serology and DNA analysis more than 100 times, forcefully responded: "That's not what the journal research shows. There are article after article after article talking about not just primary transfer -- we directly contact each other -- but secondary transfer. Now we're discovering there's tertiary transfer. A study by Dr. Peter Gill, who's one of the co-authors of our paper (on Holtzclaw) as well as a co-author of a recent journal article, found quaternary transfer." Both Turvey and Ryan point to the incompetent mishandling of the evidence bag containing Holtzclaw's pants by Rocky Gregory (who is the son-in-law of forensic analyst Elaine Taylor) as a potential route for DNA transfer and contamination. While watching video of Gregory sticking his bare hand in the evidence bag, Turvey remarked: "This shows somebody who doesn't understand physical evidence, doesn't care about the physical evidence, so it's not just creating an environment where contamination is likely, but also showing a culture where they don't care about physical evidence at all." Turvey and Ryan, who do not know each other and who have had no contact with Holtzclaw or his family, are two of six internationally renowned experts including Dr. Peter Gill who released a public report on scientific issues in Holtzclaw's case last summer. Because of systemic failures in the basic testing, handling, collection, analysis and interpretation of evidence, the scientists determined that Holtzclaw "was deprived of his due process right to a fair trial" and that his "conviction should be overturned and he should be given a new trial." Scientific and ethical lapses before, during and after the Holtzclaw trial should raise alarm bells across forensic and investigative communities inside and outside the Sooner State. Repeated evasions of transparency by Oklahoma prosecutors and police brass about their handling of the Holtzclaw case should trouble criminal justice watchdogs on all sides of the ideological spectrum nationwide.
Justice, like democracy, dies in the darkness. Michelle Malkin's new episode on the Holtzclaw case debuts this week at crtv.com/michelle-malkin-investigates."

The entire commentary can be found at:
https://townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/2018/02/14/science-secrecy-and-lies-in-oklahoma-n2448889

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Bobby Griffin: Connecticut: False confession case. On-going trial: (Reid technique under attack in court); Bulletin. "Defendant in New Haven killing pins crime on witness," the New Haven Register reports... (Reporter Randall Beach)...."Griffin told police during the later part of about 31/2 hours of questioning on Oct. 20, 201,3 that he shot Bradley. But the jurors Thursday heard testimony from Williams College professor Alan Hirsch, an expert on false confessions, who said aggressive police questioning sometimes compels a suspect to confess to a crime he didn’t commit. During a lengthy cross-examination by Senior Assistant State’s Attorney John P. Doyle Jr., Griffin acknowledged that at the start of his interview with two detectives he read and signed a Miranda form advising him he had the right to remain silent and to ask for an attorney to be present. Griffin also conceded under Doyle’s questioning that the detectives told him he could stop the questioning at any time. But Griffin said he felt pressured by the detectives. “I thought I had no choice. They kept telling me I did it. I kept saying I had nothing to do with the crime.” Under questioning by defense attorney Wade Luckett, Griffin said he believed the detectives when they told him surveillance cameras had recorded the shooting (no cameras were present) and that if he didn’t confess the police would arrest his mother. Luckett asked Griffin what he thought Detective Nicole Natale meant when she told him he could “get the chair” and “fry.” Griffin replied, “I took that to mean the electric chair, the death penalty.”

"Bobby Griffin Jr., on trial for allegedly murdering Nathaniel Bradley in an attempted street robbery, testified Thursday he was at the scene of the crime but asserted that another man was the shooter.
Griffin pinned the shooting on Nathan L. Johnson, who last week testified he saw Griffin shoot Bradley twice in the back. Johnson has entered into a cooperation agreement with the state, by which he pledged to testify truthfully about what happened the night of Oct. 14, 2013, on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. Griffin, 25, of Peck Street, is charged with felony murder, murder, attempted first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery. Johnson, also of New Haven, originally was charged with felony murder. Under the cooperation agreement, prosecutors dropped that charge and he pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery. He faces a prison sentence of up to 30 years but conceded during his testimony he hopes he will receive less time in exchange for his cooperation. Griffin told police during the later part of about 31/2 hours of questioning on Oct. 20, 201,3 that he shot Bradley. But the jurors Thursday heard testimony from Williams College professor Alan Hirsch, an expert on false confessions, who said aggressive police questioning sometimes compels a suspect to confess to a crime he didn’t commit. During a lengthy cross-examination by Senior Assistant State’s Attorney John P. Doyle Jr., Griffin acknowledged that at the start of his interview with two detectives he read and signed a Miranda form advising him he had the right to remain silent and to ask for an attorney to be present. Griffin also conceded under Doyle’s questioning that the detectives told him he could stop the questioning at any time. But Griffin said he felt pressured by the detectives. “I thought I had no choice. They kept telling me I did it. I kept saying I had nothing to do with the crime.” Under questioning by defense attorney Wade Luckett, Griffin said he believed the detectives when they told him surveillance cameras had recorded the shooting (no cameras were present) and that if he didn’t confess the police would arrest his mother. Luckett asked Griffin what he thought Detective Nicole Natale meant when she told him he could “get the chair” and “fry.” Griffin replied, “I took that to mean the electric chair, the death penalty.” Griffin, who was seen with his eyes closed at times during the videotape of the interrogation, was asked by Luckett whether he had fallen asleep. “Yes, I nodded off a couple of times,” Griffin said. In his account of the events of Oct. 14, 2013, Griffin said he arrived at a friend’s house on Goffe Street at about 6 p.m. He said he saw about seven people on the front porch and they were smoking marijuana and drinking. Griffin said he heard a conversation there between Johnson and Ebony Wright, during which Johnson handed a cellphone to Wright. Griffin said she then made a phone call to someone and asked to buy some marijuana. (Wright has pleaded nolo contendere to attempted second-degree robbery in this case and is awaiting sentencing.) Shortly afterward, Griffin testified, while he was walking toward the Boulevard with Wright and Johnson, a white Chrysler pulled up. “Nate walked over to the car,” he said. “Ebony was right behind him.” When Luckett asked Griffin how far he was from the car, Griffin said: “I was a good 20 feet away.” Asked why he had kept his distance, Griffin said, “I knew a sale to buy marijuana was being conducted and I didn’t want any part of it.” “I’m walking away from the car,” Griffin continued. “My back is to the car. I heard two, I believe, gunshots go off. I ran. Griffin said he returned to the Goffe Street house and soon afterward saw Johnson and Wright come back. Griffin testified: “Nate handed me a black bag. I felt I had no choice but to accept it. I felt my life was in danger. I’d just heard two shots go off.” Griffin said he saw a gun barrel protruding from the bag. “I put the bag across the handlebars of my bike and rode home. I put the bag in the attic.” He added he tried to sell the rifle to a man he knew. But then police raided the house, seized the weapon and arrested him on a weapon charge. When Doyle began his cross-examination, he asked Griffin about his criminal record. Griffin acknowledged he has been convicted of four felonies. Doyle asked: “This is the first time you’ve ever said Nathan Johnson pulled the trigger and shot Nathaniel Bradley?” Griffin, who remained calm and polite during Doyle’s questioning, replied: “Yes, sir.” When Doyle asked Griffin about his reported reluctance to get involved with a marijuana transaction, he asked: “Do you smoke weed”? Griffin’s reply: “No, sir.” Doyle then cited a letter Griffin wrote to a friend from prison in which he said, “I was high that night (of the crime) on Molly and LSD.” Griffin agreed he had written those words but again said, “I don’t smoke weed.” Doyle also played back a recording of a call Griffin made to his mother from prison. When she reported what she had told an investigator about the rifle, Griffin said they would “have to work around that.” Later Doyle read from another letter Griffin wrote from prison to Johnson. Griffin told him: “Don’t talk to nobody regarding our case. They don’t got (expletive).” “The reality is,” Doyle asked, “you were in fear of him coming forward and testifying like he did last week?” Griffin replied: “No, sir.” Doyle picked up the rifle that police have linked to the shooting. “You approached him (Bradley) with the gun and pointed it at him? When he wouldn’t give it up, you shot him twice in the back?” Griffin: “No, sir.”
 https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/Defendant-in-New-Haven-killing-pins-crime-on-12618153.php


Bobby Griffin Jr. Connecticut; On-going trial: False confessions: Bulletin: "Expert to testify about false confessions in New Haven homicide trial," The New Haven Register reports..."Superior Court Judge Elpedio N. Vitale Wednesday listened to preliminary testimony from the false confessions expert, Williams College professor Alan Hirsch, while the jury was absent. Vitale held that hearing to determine whether to let Hirsch testify with the jurors present. Prosecutors Sean McGuinness and John P. Doyle Jr. objected to having Hirsch testify. McGuinness said, “He is an academic” who has never himself participated in or watched an interrogation, except on videotape. “I don’t think he’s qualified.”..."But defense attorney Wade Luckett said Hirsch’s testimony would be relevant, especially since the state’s case is “built on his confession.” “It would assist the jury,” Luckett added. “You can’t be sure they understand this this (false confessions) always happens across the country.” During the hearing, Hirsch said people find it hard to accept the idea of false confessions. “They find it counter-intuitive.” But Hirsch cited statistics from the Innocence Project, whose lawyers began testing the DNA of convicted persons and the evidence in those cases starting in the late 1980s. “They found that hundreds of people had been wrongly convicted and about one-quarter of them had confessed.” Hirsch called those cases “just a sliver of the universe of false confessions.” Hirsch described the Reid technique, commonly used by police during interrogations. He said the nine-step process uses confrontation. He quoted what police or detectives say: “You did it; we know you did it. We have the evidence; you’re done.” Hirsch said this is followed by minimalization, in which the police tell the suspect: “If you confess, it won’t be so bad. Somebody else was the main guy. Your punishment won’t be that severe.” Under this technique, Hirsch said, “The suspect is told confession is the only way out and it’s not a particularly bad way out.” But Hirsch added, “The problem with the Reid technique is it breaks down the innocent as well as the guilty.”


PUBLISHER'S NOTE: The Charles Smith Blog  is interested in false confessions because of the disturbing number of exonerations in the USA, Canada and multiple other jurisdictions throughout the world, where, in the absence of incriminating forensic evidence the conviction is based on self-incrimination – and because of the growing body of  scientific research showing how vulnerable suspects    (especially juveniles)  are to widely used interrogation methods  such as  the notorious ‘Reid Technique.’

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;

-----------------------------------------------------------




GIST: "The judge in Bobby Griffin Jr.’s trial on a murder charge Wednesday ruled that an expert on false confessions will be allowed to testify on behalf of the defense. Griffin’s attorneys argued the jury should hear about false confessions because the two lawyers contend police detectives coerced Griffin into saying he fatally shot Nathaniel Bradley during a robbery attempt five years ago on Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. Griffin, 25, of Peck Street, is charged with felony murder, murder, attempted first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery. Bradley, 36, of Hamden, was shot as he stood outside his car on the night of Oct. 14, 2013. Superior Court Judge Elpedio N. Vitale Wednesday listened to preliminary testimony from the false confessions expert, Williams College professor Alan Hirsch, while the jury was absent. Vitale held that hearing to determine whether to let Hirsch testify with the jurors present. Prosecutors Sean McGuinness and John P. Doyle Jr. objected to having Hirsch testify. McGuinness said, “He is an academic” who has never himself participated in or watched an interrogation, except on videotape. “I don’t think he’s qualified.” McGuinness also noted that during the voir dire process, when the jurors were questioned before being selected, they were asked about confessions and said they understood some such statements can be false. “It won’t help the jury to have him (Hirsch) come in and re-state it.” McGuinness said such testimony would be prejudicial. “It’s speculative, as he admits. It’s ‘wink, wink, this happens all the time, don’t convict this guy.’” But defense attorney Wade Luckett said Hirsch’s testimony would be relevant, especially since the state’s case is “built on his confession.” “It would assist the jury,” Luckett added. “You can’t be sure they understand this this (false confessions) always happens across the country.” During the hearing, Hirsch said people find it hard to accept the idea of false confessions. “They find it counter-intuitive.” But Hirsch cited statistics from the Innocence Project, whose lawyers began testing the DNA of convicted persons and the evidence in those cases starting in the late 1980s. “They found that hundreds of people had been wrongly convicted and about one-quarter of them had confessed.” Hirsch called those cases “just a sliver of the universe of false confessions.” Hirsch described the Reid technique, commonly used by police during interrogations. He said the nine-step process uses confrontation. He quoted what police or detectives say: “You did it; we know you did it. We have the evidence; you’re done.” Hirsch said this is followed by minimalization, in which the police tell the suspect: “If you confess, it won’t be so bad. Somebody else was the main guy. Your punishment won’t be that severe.” Under this technique, Hirsch said, “The suspect is told confession is the only way out and it’s not a particularly bad way out.” But Hirsch added, “The problem with the Reid technique is it breaks down the innocent as well as the guilty.” Griffin’s attorneys have asserted that during his interrogation by two detectives, which lasted 3 to 4 hours, the detectives lied to him about the evidence they had against him and told him he needed to confess. Detective David Zaweski acknowledged during his testimony Tuesday that he and Detective Nicole Natale did lie about the evidence they had, which police are allowed to do in such situations. Luckett told Vitale Wednesday during arguments about Hirsch testifying that if people watch the videotape of Griffin’s interrogation, “you can tell it (Reid) is the method that was used.” He said the jury will be able to study this during its deliberations. They have seen the videotape already and have the option of watching it again. When Vitale announced his ruling late Wednesday afternoon, again with the jury absent, he specified Hirsch will not be allowed to discuss the interrogation of Griffin and his confession. Instead he will be permitted to talk generally about the techniques of confrontation and minimalization. Vitale summoned the jurors into the courtroom at about 4:30 p.m. and instructed them to report back to hear testimony Thursday morning. Hirsch will be the first to testify. Earlier Wednesday the state rested its case. The prosecution’s final witness was Ryan Rosozinski, a corrections officer for the state Department of Correction. He testified about recorded phone conversations of calls Griffin made from prison and a letter he wrote which authorities intercepted. Those materials appeared to depict Griffin asking friends to give police a version of events that would show he was not the one who shot Bradley. The jurors listened to several of the phone calls and the court clerk read the letter to them."

The entire story can be found at:

https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/Expert-to-testify-about-false-confessions-in-New-12614733.php

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

David Bryant. UK: Botched police investigation of alleged rape: "Police wrongly pursued retired fire chief rather than investigate blackmail claim against fantasist who accused him of rape," the Telegraph reports..."Police wrongly pursued a rape case against a retired fire chief rather than investigate a blackmail claim against the fantasist who made the allegation, the Telegraph can disclose. David Bryant, 67, spent almost three years in jail after being convicted of rape in a miscarriage of justice that further plunges into crisis the police handling of sex abuse cases. Mr Bryant’s conviction was overturned in the Court of Appeal and now a High Court judge has raised serious questions over a police force’s failure to investigate his accuser. The police inquiry began after Danny Day, who had sought medical help for compulsive lying, went to Dorset Police in 2012 claiming he had been raped by Mr Bryant in a fire station in Christchurch in 1977. But before doing so, Mr Day had posted a letter through Mr Bryant’s door threatening to make him pay “one way or another” and demanding he telephone him or else he would go to newspapers and to police. Mr Bryant’s wife Lynn, who subsequently died, her death blamed on the stress of the ordeal, immediately phoned police, alarmed by the threat. Her pleas were ignored. Now in a High Court judgment, Master Gary Thornett has expressed his concern that officers pursued the rape case against Mr Bryant rather than investigating Mr Day for blackmail."


PUBLISHER'S NOTE:  Police officers  are under increasing pressure in North and America to lay rape charges - or face public wrath. I have run several posts in which police in the UK have willfully held back exculpatory evidence from persons accused of rape. All the easier to get a conviction in cases where there is no concrete evidence that would present a reasonable possibility of conviction. Other posts have dealt with the increasing adoption of  FETI (Forensic Experiential  Trauma Interview) techniques in North America - even though a strong  scientific basis for this technique has not yet been established.  It makes for good PR and may hold off the shrill crowd - but risks false accusations and all that they entail. There is no substitute for a thorough, fair, impartial, unpolitical rape investigations. Without them, the consequences  to the accused - as Mr. Bryant's case illustrates - can be devastating. I am increasingly hearing the refrain that, 'well. in any case, only a  small fraction of  rape reports involve wrongful prosecutions. I don't buy that. One is too many.

Harold Levy. Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

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QUOTE  OF THE DAY: “If he [Day] had been a really good psychopath Dave would still be in prison,” said (Mr. Brant's lawyer) Mr Butler, “How many Dave’s are there wrongly locked up? I am guessing it is in the hundreds – that’s the scandal and it is only getting worse.” He said that Dorset police had not only wreaked devastation on his client but had also let down Mr Day by failing to check his claims properly. “They should never have let Day in the witness box with so little evidence or checking and they have ruined his life,” said Mr Butler. “I do not know what really motivated Day to lie, he is such a sad and complex character.”

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STORY: "Police wrongly pursued retired fire chief rather than investigate blackmail claim against fantasist who accused him of rape," the Telegraph reports," by reporter Robert Mendick  published by The Telegraph on February 10, 2018.


GIST: "Police wrongly pursued a rape case against a retired fire chief rather than investigate a blackmail claim against the fantasist who made the allegation, the Telegraph can disclose. David Bryant, 67, spent almost three years in jail after being convicted of rape in a miscarriage of justice that further plunges into crisis the police handling of sex abuse cases. Mr Bryant’s conviction was overturned in the Court of Appeal and now a High Court judge has raised serious questions over a police force’s failure to investigate his accuser. The police inquiry began after Danny Day, who had sought medical help for compulsive lying, went to Dorset Police in 2012 claiming he had been raped by Mr Bryant in a fire station in Christchurch in 1977. But before doing so, Mr Day had posted a letter through Mr Bryant’s door threatening to make him pay “one way or another” and demanding he telephone him or else he would go to newspapers and to police. Mr Bryant’s wife Lynn, who subsequently died, her death blamed on the stress of the ordeal, immediately phoned police, alarmed by the threat. Her pleas were ignored. Now in a High Court judgment, Master Gary Thornett has expressed his concern that officers pursued the rape case against Mr Bryant rather than investigating Mr Day for blackmail. In the written judgment, Master Thornett said: “This [letter] would not strike any reasonable person as anything other than a blackmail note. It is clearly threatening. The invitation to make contact seems well away from a need to discuss and elicit an apology but instead seek either a financial payment or retribution through the threat of Police involvement and publicity.” Mr Day, from Bromley in Kent, received £11,000 from the Government’s Criminal injuries Compensation Authority for the rape, which he has never had to pay back. He also began a claim for damages from Mr Bryant and from Dorset fire services. Mr Bryant, who had received commendations for bravery during an unblemished 40-year career as a fire fighter, was convicted in 2013 on the basis of Mr Day’s testimony alone and sentenced to eight and half years in jail. He was freed in 2016 after the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction after it emerged that Mr Day had sought medical help for being a serial liar, including making demonstrably false claims he was a champion boxer who would have fought at the Los Angeles Olympics if he had not been so traumatised by the rape. On his release, Mr Bryant brought his own legal action against Mr Day. The High Court ruled that Mr Day “had sought to undermine justice by making false allegations” of sexual assault and had sought compensation “by contriving an allegation that was false and fundamentally dishonest”. Master Thornett’s judgment also declared that Mr Day had deliberately used the police and crown prosecution service to wage a “campaign of self-aggrandisement”. The court ordered him to pay £20,000 interim costs. Mr Bryant told the Telegraph: “This ruling shows just how hopeless the police were. Instead of investigating Danny day for blackmail, they investigated me for historic sex abuse. Lynn [Mr Bryant’s wife] reported this as a blackmail threat but they ignored it. “This could have been cleared up in days but instead I went to jail and my wife died from the stress of the ordeal.” The 35-page ruling will put huge pressure on Dorset police to apologise to Mr Bryant. The force has so far refused to do so and didn’t even bother to send a note of condolence when Mr Bryant’s wife died not long after his release. Mr Bryant’s lawyer Rupert Butler said Mr Bryant had “got lucky” that Mr day’s lies were relatively easily exposed. “If he [Day] had been a really good psychopath Dave would still be in prison,” said Mr Butler, “How many Dave’s are there wrongly locked up? I am guessing it is in the hundreds – that’s the scandal and it is only getting worse.” He said that Dorset police had not only wreaked devastation on his client but had also let down Mr Day by failing to check his claims properly. “They should never have let Day in the witness box with so little evidence or checking and they have ruined his life,” said Mr Butler. “I do not know what really motivated Day to lie, he is such a sad and complex character.”     Dorset Police have not responded to requests for a comment, but previously they told the Telegraph: “Dorset Police takes allegations of this nature very seriously and conducted a very thorough and detailed investigation. The findings of the investigation were passed on to the Crown Prosecution Service who chose to prosecute. "

The entire story can be read at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/10/police-wrongly-pursued-retired-fire-chief-rather-investigate/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Eric Kelley; Ralph Lee; New Jersey: "Prosecutors tell N.J. court released men are still guilty of murder despite DNA doubts," by reporter S.P. Sullivan..." Eric Kelley and Ralph Lee spent 24 years behind bars for the 1993 murder of a Paterson video store clerk. The pair confessed during interrogations but later recanted their confessions, saying they made them up under pressure from police. They were convicted at separate trials. Last year, a state Superior Court judge tossed those convictions after two legal groups dedicated to freeing the wrongly convicted uncovered DNA and other evidence that contradicted their confessions and eyewitness accounts. The case was the subject of a July special report from NJ Advance Media which reexamined court records and evidence gathered by the legal groups and raised questions about the investigation. The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office counters the evidence, which points to another possible suspect, does not prove the two men innocent. The office filed an appeal of the judge's ruling, and now a panel of three appellate judges is weighing whether to reverse the decision or move forward with new trials."



PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Over the weekend, Mark Godsey expressed his skepticism about Pres. Donald Trump's newfound love for 'due process' in a post on The Wrongful Conviction Blog. (One of my favorite blogs. HL). I fired off the following comment to the W.C.B. "Is this the same Donald Trump who reasserted the guilt of the exonerated Central Park Five who had wrongfully been convicted for rape as teenagers ? (He had once called for their execution). As Liliana Segura wrote in The intercept on October 11, 2016: “But despite the burst of outrage, the ugly truth is that Trump’s attitude is all too common in district attorneys’ offices around the country. Not only have prosecutors defended the convictions of innocent people in the face of exonerating evidence, they will often block efforts to test for such evidence as DNA in the first place. Once a conviction is overturned, DAs often refuse to drop charges, dragging out a legal fight while dangling the specter of re-imprisonment over men and women who just want to move on with their lives. If a person is officially exonerated and seeks compensation, it is not uncommon for DAs to fight these efforts as well.” Thank you Mr. President Trump. Such compassion for the wrongfully accused!" It strikes me that the inability of New Jersey to back off, free Eric Kelley and Ralph Lee and truly investigate the actual killer (identified by the DNA evidence), is a classic example of Liliana Segura's point, in the Intercept,  that Trump's harsh, vindictive attitude - as evidenced in the Central Park Five case - "is all too common in district attorneys’ offices around the country."  Since Eric Kelley and Ralph Lee's prosecutors  appear unable to find it in themselves to exonerate two men shown to be innocent by the scientific (DNA) evidence in a case where that evidence points to a third person as perpetrator of the crime, it's hard to imagine any case in which they will admit their errors and truly act in their wider role as administrators of justice who owe a duty to protect the rights of the accused as well.  Read on!

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

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Read Mark Godsey's Wrongful Conviction Blog entry at:  https://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2018/02/10/lives-shattered-by-a-false-allegation/#comments

Read Liliana Segura's Intercept story at:
https://theintercept.com/2016/10/11/donald-trump-ugly-attack-on-central-park-five-reflects-all-too-common-attitude/

PASSAGE OF THE DAY: "Run through a database of convicted felons, the DNA evidence later matched the profile of a man who had been released from prison for a similar knifepoint robbery three months before Merino's killing. That man has never been charged in connection to the video store murder and, through his attorney, has denied any involvement. Prosecutors argue he is not a viable suspect, pointing out that while he was determined to be the primary DNA contributor on the hat, there were also traces of other, unidentified individuals. Paul Casteleiro, a lawyer for Centurion Ministries, which is representing Lee, said prosecutors never even interviewed the possible new suspect. In order to fight his client's release, Casteleiro said, they had effectively declared the man innocent without investigating his involvement. "

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STORY: "Prosecutors tell N.J. court released men are still guilty of murder despite DNA doubts," by reporter S.P. Sullivan, published by N.J. Com on Feb. 12, 2018."

GIST: "Prosecutors are asking a state appeals court to put two New Jersey men back in prison after a judge gave them new trials thanks to DNA evidence. Eric Kelley and Ralph Lee spent 24 years behind bars for the 1993 murder of a Paterson video store clerk. The pair confessed during interrogations but later recanted their confessions, saying they made them up under pressure from police. They were convicted at separate trials. Last year, a state Superior Court judge tossed those convictions after two legal groups dedicated to freeing the wrongly convicted uncovered DNA and other evidence that contradicted their confessions and eyewitness accounts. The case was the subject of a July special report from NJ Advance Media which reexamined court records and evidence gathered by the legal groups and raised questions about the investigation. The Passaic County Prosecutor's Office counters the evidence, which points to another possible suspect, does not prove the two men innocent. The office filed an appeal of the judge's ruling, and now a panel of three appellate judges is weighing whether to reverse the decision or move forward with new trials. Assistant Prosecutor Robert Wisse told the three-judge panel during a hearing in Trenton on Monday that the juries that convicted Kelley and Lee two decades ago already heard arguments alleging false confessions and pertaining to a prior DNA test done at the time. "Both of those juries rejected those arguments," he said. Vanessa Potkin, an attorney for the Innocence Project, which is representing Kelley, said prosecutors are "clinging to a conviction" to cover for a bungled criminal case and ignoring test results that may point to the real killer. The key piece of evidence in the case is a green and purple baseball cap found near the body of Tito Merino, the young store clerk who was beaten and stabbed during the robbery at his uncle's store. Kelley wrote in his signed confession that he owned the hat, but DNA testing ruled him out as a DNA contributor, which would have been expected for someone who wore it. The technology was limited at the time, however, and never ruled out Lee as a possible owner. An eyewitness who was in the store picked Lee out of a photo array as the man she saw in the store wearing the hat shortly before the time of the murder. But the new DNA testing, performed in 2014, ruled out Lee as the owner of the hat as well. Run through a database of convicted felons, the DNA evidence later matched the profile of a man who had been released from prison for a similar knifepoint robbery three months before Merino's killing. That man has never been charged in connection to the video store murder and, through his attorney, has denied any involvement. Prosecutors argue he is not a viable suspect, pointing out that while he was determined to be the primary DNA contributor on the hat, there were also traces of other, unidentified individuals. Paul Casteleiro, a lawyer for Centurion Ministries, which is representing Lee, said prosecutors never even interviewed the possible new suspect. In order to fight his client's release, Casteleiro said, they had effectively declared the man innocent without investigating his involvement. Judge Jack Sabatino said Monday it could take "some time" for the panel to issue a ruling in the case."

The entire story can be found at:
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2018/02/prosecutors_fight_new_murder_trials_after_dna_rais.html

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog."